From the cherry blossom trees and National Cherry Blossom Festival programming to exciting virtual and in-person events, celebrate the best free things to do this spring in DC.
A family-friendly spring break filled with free activities awaits in Washington, DC. The season is headlined by the blooming of cherry blossom trees and the corresponding National Cherry Blossom Festival, but your spring excitement does not have to be limited to that. There are plenty of free things to do both virtually and in-person, and we’ve listed some of our favorites below.
Make sure to check out what's open in DC and peruse the latest travel status updates.
Make your way down the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
The southeast pocket of DC has undergone significant development in recent years, including a continuous new 20-mile Anacostia Riverwalk Trail that runs along both sides of the Anacostia River through the Capitol Riverfront and Anacostia neighborhoods. Run, bike or stroll down the 10-12 foot wide trail that winds next to the revitalized waterway.
Enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival isn't just a celebration of the blossoms—it's a three-week-long cultural festival held across the city. This year's full calendar of events includes the Opening Ceremony (March 20), the Blossom Kite Festival (March 26), the Parade (April 9) and Petalpalooza (April 16). Many of these are free to attend or enjoy online. Update: the National Park Service forecasted peak bloom for this year's blossoms between March 22-25. The best viewing of the cherry blossom trees typically lasts four to seven days after peak bloom begins, but the blossoms can last for up to two weeks under ideal conditions.
Explore flowers beyond the National Mall
Seeing the blossoms on the National Mall is essential during any spring vacation to DC, but your flower exploration does not have to stop there. Check out the Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral, which was planned to suit the 14th-century-style Gothic cathedral, or check out the Rock Creek Park, which offers blooming wildlife all year long.
Immerse yourself in DC's international culture with Passport DC
Returning in-person in 2022, Passport DC (May 1-31) offers a month of programming across the city that focuses on highlighting international cultures. The Flower Mart (May 6-7), the Around the World Embassy Tour (May 7) and the European Union Open House are annual highlights. Most events and tours can be enjoyed entirely free of charge. Make sure to check out other spring events in the District.
Celebrate Women's History Month all over DC
Vietnam Veteran Women's Memorial - National Mall - Washington, DC
Washington, DC is always celebrating the success of all women in the nation’s capital. Be proud of what women have accomplished and check out the numerous ways you can celebrate amazing women in DC, including the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and many more. In addition to marking Women's History Month, March will also offer commemorations of Harriet Tubman's 200th birthday.
See blossoms around town
The Tidal Basin, including the cherry blossoms that surround the incredible Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and East Potomac Park are not the only places to feature cherry blossoms in DC. Stanton Park in historic Capitol Hill features a dramatic display of the trees, as does the U.S. National Arboretum.
Check out Recreation Pier at The Wharf
The Wharf’s Recreation Pier is perfect for catching some rays in its lounge chairs, or you can take a seat at any of its outdoor desks. There are also modern swing sets, where you can swing back and forth while admiring breathtaking views of the Washington Channel.
Admire city views from the Netherlands Carillon
Located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery, the Netherlands Carillon was a gift from the Dutch to the U.S. in 1954 as thanks for assistance during World War II. The grounds on which the open steel tower sit are perfect for picnicking and provide a glorious vista of the DC skyline.
Visit pandas and hundreds of other animals at Smithsonian's National Zoo
Smithsonian's National Zoo is currently open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with entry passes required. Families can see a wide range of species from habitats all over the world, as well as everyone's favorite panda, Xiao Qi Ji. Make sure to visit the Zoo's website for more information and stay tuned to our What's Open page for the latest updates on attractions in the District.
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